By Emily Seddon
Most people understand that maintaining good gut health supports the function of our entire body. Not only is 70 per cent of our immune system contained in our digestive system, it is also the site of nutrient metabolism and production of many neurotransmitters vital for a healthy body and mind. On top of this, the cell structure of our gut is extremely similar to that of our skin epithelial tissue.
It stands to reason then, that a healthy gut will not only help you glow from the inside out, but also correct any imbalances that may be affecting how your body works on a daily basis. Often it is thought that health is achieved by cutting out problematic foods, however the best way to look after yourself is to nourish your body with the best foods.
Yoghurt can be a great source of probiotic bacteria, however dairy products also carry a little-known protein known as lactoferrin. Lactoferrin is a glycoprotein that displays immune-modulating, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Lactoferrin also has the ability to bind to iron, influencing stored iron levels. These actions together mean lactoferrin can help to fight off bad bacteria within the gut and improve the immune response to pathogens as well.
Along with these gut benefits – or rather, because of them – lactoferrin has also been shown to improve acne! Supplementation with lactoferrin alone in patients with acne has been shown to reduce acne lesion counts, reduce sebum production and improve the severity of acne presentation.
It’s not always about what food and drink you eat, but also how you consume it. Dehydration is the most common cause of constipation, hence reaching your 8 cups (2L) of water a day is important for maintaining healthy bowel movements. But did you know that gargling your water can improve your digestion even further?
Gargling contracts the muscles at the back of your throat, which then activates the nerve responsible for peristalsis (the vagus nerve). If you get to the point of a few tears welling in the eyes (another vagus nerve response), you’ve done it correctly.
Adding sprouts to your meals is one of the easiest ways to boost your daily nutrient intake! Sprouting a seed basically kickstarts its growth. This process begins to break down starch and phytates, which makes the percentage of nutrients in the plant higher and more easily absorbed. The enzymes that begin this process also assist in breaking down the foods in your gut.
While all sprouts are good to consider, pay special attention to broccoli sprouts. These little guys contain a beneficial phytochemical known as glucoraphanin, which creates sulforaphane when chewed or swallowed. Sulforaphane has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. It’s also a potent inducer of phase 2 liver detoxification pathways, which are vital for the excretion of toxins and excessive hormones.
Gelatin is a rich source of collagen, which is a key structural component of the intestinal wall. Due to their location, the cells within the gut are regularly turned over and gelatin provides the ingredients needed to replenish cells of the gut lining that are constantly being irritated via the contents of the digestive tract. Without this, the lining can become sparse, increasing the risk of intestinal hyperpermeability.
Being a source of protein, gelatin can also increase satiety, stabilise blood sugar levels and is a source of energy for the body to use. Glycine (one of the key amino acids in gelatin) is also involved in neurotransmitter production, muscle integrity and antioxidant production.
You can find collagen in foods like bone broth and eggs, however using a gelatin powder and making delicious gummies is an easy way to boost your gelatin intake.
Who doesn’t love a sneaky cafe avo on the weekend? No need to feel guilty, because that avocado is simply smashing for gut health. One of the reasons for this is due to its silica content.
The majority of silica in the human body resides in connective tissue, including the skin and mucous membranes in the gut and respiratory system. Deficiencies often present as brittle hair and nails or dry and inflamed skin – as without silica, collagen loses its stability.
A lack of silica also increases the risk of intestinal hyperpermeability (also known as leaky gut). The lining of the gut (the epithelial lining) forms a barrier that separates the contents of the gut from the rest of the body. When this is compromised, the body is more at risk of inflammation, diarrhoea, IBS, infection, allergies, immune imbalances and more.
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